Economy Minister Edwina Hart AM announces launch of new Swansea supercomputing hub

30/04/13
From left: Joe Duran, Fujitsu, Professor Ian Cluckie, Swansea University, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, David Craddock, HPC Wales and Professor Martyn Guest, HPC Wales

Minister for Economy, Science and Transport Edwina Hart AM has announced the launch of HPC Wales’ second supercomputing hub in Swansea.

Over 100 invited guests from business organisations, Universities and government attended the launch, which was held at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea where the new High Performance Computing (HPC) Wales facility is located. The facility has been earmarked to become south Wales’ innovation hub for businesses and academic researchers, by providing a significant increase in computing capacity across the region.

Both the Swansea and existing hub in Cardiff have been kitted out with the latest Fujitsu Primergy equipment with Intel Sandy Bridge processors. This latest Phase-2 development in HPC Wales’ installation of a pan-Wales distributed network will increase its tota l capacity to over 17,000 cores.

Attendees had a chance to view the hub which is located within the Dylan Thomas Centre.

The new centre has a peak processing performance of almost 320 TFlops – meaning that the entire network is capable of running 320 trillion operations per second.

Offering eight times more computing power, memory and storage than previously available, this development provides a valuable additional resource for businesses and researchers across Wales. The Swansea-based installation also boasts a purpose built centre with an environmentally friendly water-cooling system. This will result in more power and processing speed for Welsh businesses keen to take advantage of the latest supercomputing technology.

This announcement marks the latest milestone for HPC Wales, which was formed to manage a shared service collaboration of the universities in Wales and enable Welsh companies and university researchers to speed up innovation by providing affordable access to supercomputing technology.

HPC Wales is of great strategic importance to the Welsh economy and aims to turn Wales into a leading international centre for specialist supercomputing research applications, ensuring that Wales grows its knowledge economy and has a strong international competitive advantage. Today, active projects from many of the Welsh Government priority sector areas are exploiting HPC Wales services; the current project profile reveals 30% of projects from Energy & the Environment, 24% from Life Sciences and 17% from the Creative Industries – the fastest growing area to effectively exploit supercomputing technology.  

The venture has been made possible with support of £24m from the Welsh Government and the Welsh European Funding Office, and £10m from the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The infrastructure and some services have been developed in partnership with Fujitsu.

Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart, said:

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said the launch of the hub represented strategic investment in the key supporting infrastructures of a modern economy.

"I am very pleased that Wales is building its own unique supercomputing capability and that HPC Wales is bringing together many of our universities in a truly collaborative venture.

"HPC Wales is not just aimed at academic research; it is unique in the UK in that it will also deliver research that is more commercially focussed and can generate positive economic impacts which can boost the strength of the Welsh economy.”

Chief Executive of HPC Wales, David Craddock, said:

“We are delighted to announce the opening of our new facility in the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. This development underlines our commitment to boosting innovation in businesses across Wales.

“HPC Wales aims to make Welsh businesses more competitive in global markets and to grow the knowledge economy as well as creating employment opportunities. To date over 100 businesses have sought our advice and we have trained over 500 individuals. Since we opened for business in early 2012, demand has been particularly strong from those in the engineering, environment, life sciences and creative industry sectors.

Over 100 attended the event at the historic Dylan Thomas Centre.

“Supercomputing can benefit any business whatever its size. It is a versatile technology that can be adapted to suit individual needs and the scope of applications is incredibly wide-ranging.

“A growing number of SMEs are becoming aware that access to supercomputing technology really can help them attain a competitive advantage and our aim is to train and support them to get the most benefits from the technology.”